Tamales Amy started operating in January, 2012 in the back of the Produce Pro Market in Oakland on San Pablo Ave. at 23rd Street. What caught my eye was a handwritten menu fastened to the parking lot fence which listed “torta de tamal” for $3, along with other taqueria items.
The torta is a bolillo which is an oval, savory roll sliced lengthwise and you have a choice of chicken, pork or cheese tamale placed inside. Free options include a few squirts of sour cream and red or green salsa. The chicken tamale I got had a moderate amount of shredded white meat and the tamale itself was more dense than delicate but the better for it to hold up to the rigors of a sandwich.
On a subsequent visit, I had the cheese tamale with jalapeño. The filling was dark pink and cylindrical and tasted chewy. I asked the staff if they hadn’t served me some kind of hot dog tamale but the wait person assured me that it was cheese, probably Monterey Jack and that it had gotten that texture from sitting on the steam table in its corn husk for some time. I guess that the coloring came from a red salsa. If the filling was intended as some sort of meat substitute, it worked well and was preferable to mushy tofu or other veggie dogs.
If you do a search on “torta de tamal” not much comes up and I had not seen it before. Apparently it is a specialty of Mexico City D. F. and not too many cities in the U.S. serve it.
Also, Tamales Amy appears to have had a previous location at 3340 Foothill Blvd in East Oakland and served up at the Laney College flea market. The listed prices on the sign on the market fence were very reasonable ($1 tacos, $2 tamales) but on the last visit there were no menus inside and the prices may have gone up.
Produce Pro Market was described in articles when it opened in November, 2011 as only the second grocery store in West Oakland.
It had a good selection of produce and a terrific selection of colorful piñatas including a SpongeBob in orange and red, and a green Hot Wheels coupe.
Here’s a link to a video/slideshow about 1 minute long with pictures I took of Produce Pro and Tamales Amy. There is a soundtrack on it.
Also, here’s a more conventional slideshow with a better and slower view of the photos:
If the captions on the photos don’t appear, just click on “Show Info” in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Tamales Amy inside Produce Pro Market
2314 San Pablo Ave (near West Grand)
Oakland, CA 94612